Al Bella of Kenosha came up with the idea in a Voice of the People letter that was widely read and shared on social media.
It started “Dear Kenosha” and pointed out that Mike Bjorn, who died earlier this month at age 72, was a true friend of Kenosha, an advocate of the city and known as the “mayor of downtown,” and the unofficial ambassador of downtown.
“I am hoping that the city fathers could see to honor this larger-than-life person,” Bella wrote. “A fitting honor would have the name of the portion of Sixth Avenue from 55th Street to 59th Place named Mike Bjorn’s Way.”
Readers expressed their approval by posting comments and sharing the letter, and at this writing it’s the most read letter, column or editorial published on our online Opinion Page this month.
Before we could second the proposal, another reader, Jim Kruse Sr., agreed with Bella in a Voice of the People letter, calling it an “excellent idea.”
These two are onto something that would be special and fitting for the man who who owned the eclectic men’s fine clothing store that bears his name and was known by everyone for his support for Kenosha.
“I can’t express how blown away I’ve been by the public’s love of my dad,” his son Brett said in the days after his father’s death. “It amazes me the effect he had on people.”
Bjorn never hesitated to speak up for what he thought was best for Kenosha and downtown. And his store, which attracted tourists and locals, showed very much the artist he was.
A lifelong Kenoshan, Bjorn taught art at St. Joseph High School before opening the store in 1981.
In the days following his death, Kenosha City Council paid tribute to Bjorn when council president Anthony Kennedy wore a trademark slick black suit and white tie and displayed eight flashy ties as found in the store.
“What made the downtown more of a destination was his shop,” Ald. Jan Michalski said at the meeting. “And what made his shop a destination was its eccentric collection. (Bjorn) will always be remembered by us very fondly.”
The city has a history of subnaming streets in honor of people; it is an inexpensive, but long-lasting and prolific way, to memorialize those deserving of the honor.
We encourage council to take an additional step to honor Bjorn by acting on Bella’s suggestion, supported by many readers. A Mike Bjorn’s Way downtown would be a fitting and deserved public tribute.